Lifestyle & Belief

Salman Rushdie's India visit sparks protest


India's Darul Uloom Deoband, a school of Muslim thought based in Uttar Pradesh, has requested that the central government bar author Salman Rushdie from attending a literary festival in Jaipur, Rajasthan, later this month. The move could force the Congress Party into a corner, as it is hoping to win the Muslim vote in the Uttar Pradesh elections this February.


Cate Gillon

When British author Salman Rushdie announced plans to visit India for the Jaipur Literary Festival beginning on Jan. 20, an influential Islamic seminary called on the Indian government to block his trip.

The vice chancellor of Darul Uloom Deoband, Maulana Abdul Qasim Nomani, told reporters, “Rushdie should not be allowed to visit India. If he visits India, it would be adding salt to the injuries of Muslims. He has hurt our religious sentiments.”

Nomani called upon the Indian government to revoke Rushdie’s visa, according to the Guardian.

Rushdie’s pithy response via Twitter was: “Re: my Indian visit, for the record, I don't need a visa.”

The controversy surrounding Rushdie’s 1988 novel, The Satanic Verses, still haunts the Booker-prize winning author. When it was published, the book was banned in India and Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini issued a religious edict, or fatwa, calling for Rushdie’s execution. Rushdie spent many subsequent years in hiding.

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Rushdie is scheduled to give a talk at the session called, “Inglish, Amlish, Hinglish: The Chutneyfication of English," the Guardian reported. Other authors present at the festival will include Lionel Shriver and Richard Dawkins, according to the AFP.

The Darul Uloom Deoband seminary, located in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, preaches a conservative brand of Islam based upon a 17th-century syllabus and has been accused of inspiring radical groups like the Taliban, the AFP said.

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The festival organizers confirmed Rushdie’s attendance said the Guardian, citing his previous visits to India, as recent as 2007. Sanjoy Roy, managing director of the festival’s producers, said, “In plural societies such as ours, it is imperative that we continue to allow avenues for unfettered literary expression.”